John Calipari says he received more than one head coaching offer from the NBA this offseason, but in the end he rejected them all to stay at Kentucky (which made the decision easier by giving him a contract extension worth $52 million).
One team that reportedly offered Calipari a job was the Cleveland Cavaliers, who approached Coach Cal weeks before LeBron James shocked the world by returning to the Cavs to finish what he started.
The assumption by everyone with a brain is that, had Calipari known ahead of time about LeBron’s intention to move to Cleveland, Cal would certainly have bolted from Kentucky for the shores of Lake Erie. Not so says Coach Cal (via Courier-Journal.com):
“No. No. I don’t think so. Because he and I have a great relationship, but it’s not based on me coaching him,” Calipari said. “We’ve got a relationship. I’ve known him for years and years. We’ve always been friends. But it was never based on that. I’ve said that. I’ve had a chance to coach Derrick Rose, John Wall and DeMarcus (Cousins), Anthony Davis and Michael (Kidd-Gilchrist). And I’m leaving names off, but I’ve coached some of the best players in basketball, and it is a thrill. There’s nothing better than that. Especially when those guys are all good guys.
“Well, LeBron is also that kind of player and that kind of person. But again, leaving guys who made decisions based on what’s right for their career was something I couldn’t have gotten by anyway.”
Again, $52 million and the chance to go on being a god among men at Kentucky probably played a large role in Cal’s thought process on this one. Still, the chance to coach LeBron in the NBA?
Cal could have coasted to at least one NBA title with LeBron leading his team, erasing the one major stain on his head coaching resume, that pesky “couldn’t get it done in the NBA” blot.
You have to believe he would have at least been tempted to jump to the NBA with LeBron on board. But Cal probably isn’t going to lose any sleep on his bed made of money, with the glimmer of his gold dancing and shimmering around him.
He’s okay with his decision to stay put.